This summer, my grandfather died.
His death was the first one I have ever experienced.
His death and my loss have nothing do with curricula, activity ideas or anything academic. But grieving has been a process that has affected me as an individual, and as a mother.
In all honesty, sharing something like this here is very intimidating. I have gone back and forth with the decision for weeks. But as homeschoolers and mothers, we aren’t always all about our kids. We have experiences and emotions outside of our responsibilities that we need to work through and experience, to be who we are. And before we were mothers, we were daughters, granddaughters, sisters, friends and wives. And these relationships build the foundation for us to become the mothers we will be. This is why I am writing here.
Loosing somebody hurts. It really actually physically hurts. Sometimes its a sharp pain in the chest, sometimes it feels like a hit in the gut, and sometimes, its just there, dull in the back of your mind.
‘Grandparents are one of the best inventions.’ They’re meant to spoil and care and make you feel like you’re the most loved person in the world. But for me, my grandfather was even more than that. He filled the void of a father in my life. So he was two very significant figures intertwined into one. He called me his precious; but little did he know how precious his love was to me.
Loosing him felt like loosing a piece of my childhood. His love gave me a strength I didn’t know I had until it was gone. The other day I cried. I cried until my eyes hurt. I cried because I just wanted to sit beside him. Just sit there as he watched his shows. I wanted to read the paper with him. I wanted him to walk down the hall. It’s strange how meaningful mundane things can become.
Grief is strange. Sometimes its paralyzing. Sometimes, its empowering, because it shows you despite the hardships, you can go on. And most of the time, it’s somewhere in between. It’s there when you’re alone. It’s there when you’re with others who are oblivious to it. And sometimes its there when it creeps up in the grocery store after you see someone who reminds you of your loss.
Grief changes you. With the permission of Allah, it can make you stronger, it can make you better, and it can bring you closer to Him. But it’s a process. It’s a process I am still trying to figure out. It’s a journey. And I have offered you a glimpse into my journey in hopes that perhaps it may help you on yours.
My grandfather was a very simple man. He believed in God but did not look much into religion. I was living in Malaysia when he was diagnosed with ALS less than three years ago. This April my children and I moved back so that I could spend time with him as we sensed the end was near. In May he developed pneumonia and we believe he suffered a stroke. Alhamdulillah I was blessed to spend the last five months of his life with him. He returned to his Lord on August 20.
I am in the midst of trying to write something for my children so that they have something from this experience to take with them. They’re too young to remember what happened, but I feel they need to know. InshaAllah once I put together something for them, I will share it here as well but for now I will leave you with the letter I wrote to him.
It is very personal…and I ask you to pray for our family. I am sure there are others out there who have gone or are going through something similar and I pray these words offer some consolation.
I needed to write this letter, to make sure I had the chance to say all the things I wanted to say before our final goodbye. Anyone of us can go at any time, but sometime we are given somewhat of a warning before it’s too late.
As painful as it has been to watch you slowly slip away, I hope and pray you are able to have peace and closure to your life. You have been blessed with a long life. You’ve had your share of both successes and challenges. We all make mistakes but what matters most is our relationship with our Creator. Have you ever heard of the saying, “Man gets and forgets, God gives and forgives”? Never underestimate the Mercy and Love of God. He is the only One who will be with us unconditionally.
Of one of the countless blessings God has given us, He gave us is one another. For as long as I can remember, you have been there for me and you always did everything you could to take care of me. And for that, I will never be able to repay you.
I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for you especially in these last couple of weeks. For your entire life, you have been a strong and independent man, you even built your own business and legacy for yourself. And here we are now, telling you that you can’t drive, when to eat, and how to wash your face.
I know its hard Papa, but please know that we are doing it out of love for you. Every moment I’ve spent with you, my mind is racing, trying to think of what I could do to help you to possibly make up for a fraction of what you’ve done for me. But I will never be able to repay you. However, I know your reward is with God. In His Hands are the Heavens and the Earth, and He is the Most Generous, the Most Merciful, the Most Kind. And one day, we will all return to Him.
This world is a test. Its full of hardships, sadness and diseases. But God has promised that if we worship Him alone that He will grant us Paradise where we will live forever in everlasting peace and happiness.
I know you’re scared Papa. Anyone else would be too. It’s okay. And its normal. But never give up hope in your Lord. Know that He is closer to you than your jugular vein. Know that if you call to Him, He will respond. Ask Him for forgiveness, and ask Him to grant you and your loved ones Paradise. Have faith in Him and he will not let you down.
You know leaving you behind was one of the hardest things about moving to Malaysia. And the fear of loosing you before I had the chance to say goodbye is what brought me back.
So here we are now. I am not quite ready for goodbyes yet. I still want to see you fight this. I still want more time with you. But it will never be enough. The end is inevitable. But I hope this letter has given you some peace and closure as it has for me. I really wanted to sit beside you and say these things you to myself, but I know I would not have been able to speak through the tears.
It goes without saying, but please don’t worry about Mama. We will take care of her as best as we can.
Thank you for everything Papa. Thank you for everything you have done for me in my entire life. Thank you for always loving and caring for me. For the bunting bag and diapers. For always being there to receive the Father’s Day crafts and filling that void. Thank you for the countless car rides you gave me when I was growing up. The memory of Bob’s Plumbing truck driving past my school all the time is still so clear in my mind. Thank you for letting us use your car now. You used to drive me around to my friends and activities when I was young, and now because of you, I can do the same for my kids. The cycle continues.
I love you Papa.
I hope and pray we are reunited at the gates of Heaven.
Continue to call out to and pray to God Almighty, He will hear and respond.
With all my love and prayers,
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